Some people are destined to be together, and such is the case with Spencer Hardin and Laura Taylor.

A surgeon during the War Between the States, Spence is returning home to his wife and son when he is set upon by a band of cutthroats. His savior is Jessie Taylor, whose legs Spence saved during the war. Jessie takes him to his cabin where his wife, Laura, tends Spence's wounds.

When Spence is well enough to resume his journey, he arrives home to discover that his wife and son have left with Ross Donnelly, a man thought of as a friend. But fate drives Laura and Spence together again at a Nebraska railroad camp.

Laura, newly widowed and pregnant, is determined to make a life for herself and her unborn child. Spence is on his way to California to find his family and exact vengeance on the man who took them from him.

His search takes him to his wife's grave, but he is still determined to find his son. He also feels a responsibility to Laura and when he delivers her daughter he finds a tiny bit of emotion in himself starting to flower. When threatened with losing Laura during an Indian raid, he discovers how much he loves her and proposes marriage.

They wed but Spence must still find his son. As they travel to California. Laura vows not to let the bitterness and the horrors of the war and his quest for vengeance destroy the life of this fine man who is her husband.

BITTERSWEET is a sensitive and poignantly written story from one of the masters of the genre. It's a dark portrait of the war and its effect on different human beings. SENSUAL (Nov., 384 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Joan Hammond